Charity's anger over 'blaming and shaming' of rape victims
PUBLISHED: 11:29 24 November 2019 | UPDATED: 11:29 24 November 2019
A rape crisis charity has blasted police after they issued advice on staying safe when enjoying a night out, claiming it shifts the blame onto victims of violent sexual attacks.
Suffolk Constabulary launched their second 'After Nightfall' campaign last week to coincide with the Christmas lights switch on in Ipswich, the launch of late night shopping and the start of the party season.
They advice included avoiding alleyways and unpopulated areas, not drinking too much, not using your phone in public and not leaving drinks unattended.
However, Suffolk Rape Crisis (SRC), organisers of the Reclaim The Night march in Ipswich town centre, have raised concerns about the underlying message this carries.
They claim the advice "encourages victim-blaming behaviour and fails to focus on the causes of violence and crime perpetrators".
SRC director, Amy Roch, said: "Survivors of sexual violence are blamed and shamed in ways that victims of other crimes are not.
"They are often treated terribly through the criminal justice process and are far less likely to get justice.
"Someone who is mugged does not have their phone taken away from them for months and their personal messages used to discredit them in court," she added.
"When someone's house is burgled they are not expected to disclose their mental health history or counselling notes." She continued: "We know that most women who experience sexual violence do not report it.
"Many fear that they will not be believed or that they will be blamed. A campaign that tells women they are responsible for preventing sexual violence increases this."
Suffolk Constabulary have said that the 'After Nightfall' campaign is promoting awareness of a variety of issues including home security, fraud, personal safety, keeping valuables secure and advice on when to call on 101 or 999, not only sexual violence.
A spokesman said: "The safety of people when out enjoying the night-time economy is very important to us and our engagement in Ipswich on Thursday evening forms part of this on-going work.
"Other examples include campaigns around consent in relation to serious sexual offences and the #ItsNotOk campaign.
"It is our duty as police to protect people and prevent crime, and we would be failing in this responsibility if we did not do this.
"This campaign, along with many others during the year, helps us to keep communities across Suffolk safer."